The following article originally appeared in the Reflection & Diocesan News e-newsletter.
As I finish up my first year at Yale Divinity School, I have been reflecting on what this experience has been, what has brought me here, and where I feel called to in the future. Over the course of the past year I have been challenged academically, personally, and spiritually. I am blessed to have taken courses with world class scholars on subjects from the Old Testament to Religion and Ecology, and have grown in understanding through struggling through them. I have had the opportunity to be in a diverse and ecumenical community with passionate individuals with backgrounds very different from my own. The community is a constant source of inspiration, but has also forced me to ask difficult questions of what I believe, what it means to be the church in today's world, and what my identity as an Episcopalian means. It has been an incredibly formative experience, spending my days in prayer, study, and a little fun from time to time with some of the leaders who will help shape the future of the church.
As I engage and am informed by this new place, I often think of the experiences that have brought me here, especially those back in Western North Carolina. Born in Asheville and having spent most of my youth in Hayesville, the mountains of WNC are a part of me. There I first experienced God and recognized where he was in my life and the world around me, and there that I first felt a call to ordained ministry. I have not lived in Western North Carolina for more than a few weeks since leaving home to go to Sewanee: The University of the South at eighteen, but throughout those years--the four years of college, a year of teaching English overseas, and a period of living in intentional community working in the garden of an Episcopal convent--Western North Carolina is still my home. It has been a blessing to be supported by the Diocese and to stay connected to what's going on in the area through attending Diocesan Convention and visiting my home parish, The Church of the Good Shepherd Hayesville, whenever I can.
I can think of no better place for me to form my ministry and have difficult but rewarding conversations about the future of the church than where I am now. To be in a space where dialog between Christians from many different backgrounds is happening is important, but more transformative is the opportunity to worship and pray together. Through the next two years here at Yale Divinity School, I hope that the community will continue to help me grow in my gifts and my sense of call to serve God in the Church, and I hope to bring those gifts back to Western North Carolina, my home. Thank you for your support in this journey so far, and I look forward to having opportunities to give back the gift of ministry that has been formed here at Yale because of your support and encouragement.